Bob Odenkirk in Better Call Saul Photo: Greg Lewis/AMC
At its core, Better Call Saul is a prequel series, although it has become much more than what is expected of the genre. Still, one of his main goals is to get to the end of whoever Saul Goodman is on Breaking Bad. That would bring us full circle to the colorfully dressed, loquacious, ethically flexible, always entertaining attorney to the stars of Albuquerque’s meth trade. But what if the end of this show isn’t just the beginning of Sol Goodman from Breaking Bad or (as also promised by the black-and-white flashforwards) the arrival of Cinnabon slinger Gene Takovich?
Last week’s midseason premiere quickly but satisfyingly closed the Lalo Salamanca storyline and foreshadowed what will likely be a major problem in Jimmy and Kim’s relationship. “Fun and Games” pays off on that front, moving quickly through the state of the McGills’ marriage. Kim breaks Jimmy’s heart when she tells him that they’re having a good time, but they’re not bringing out the best in each other. And she’s right: they reveal their worst instincts, traits, and behaviors, all of which have consequences. Look no further than them using the Sandpiper case to further their careers. Jimmy giddily went along with Kim’s ideas to humiliate Howard instead of using the arrangement to help others, even as the operation became increasingly destructive to Howard. It was all fun and games until someone lost their life. Yes, McGill are really good at running scams. They show a frighteningly real sincerity even in a situation like trying to convince a widow who has been (wrongly) led to believe that her husband died by suicide and was a drug addict, all in the name of covering up their role in the man’s death.
If that scene between Jimmy, Kim, and Howard’s widow Cheryl hadn’t been the impetus for Kim’s life-changing decisions, then she’d probably be next to Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad, continuing to pursue her passion for law, maybe, but continuing a pattern of bad behavior. Just because the resolution of Jimmy and Kim’s relationship on Fun and Games was inevitable doesn’t mean it didn’t come sooner than we could have predicted, however. Jimmy was particularly shocked by the split and Kim’s blunt but truthful assessment of their integrity as a duo. Always the organized type, her things were already packed into suitcases and boxes as she told him why she was leaving.
So, Kim has left her career and Jimmy behind despite professing her love for him, but is this really the last we’ll see of her on Better Call Saul? There are four episodes left in the series, and that’s a long time without Kim Wexler. (We still need more of Rhea Seehorn’s Emmy-nominated work.) BCS also has to deal with the arrival of Walter White, Jesse Pinkman and guest star Carol Burnett. Also, there will be some updates on the predicament we last saw old Gene in with that menacing taxi driver Jeff in Omaha.
That leaves plenty of time to follow up on all of these storylines, but Kim’s bombshell drop on Jimmy — again, like everything in this second half so far — moved too quickly. After his split with Kim, we get a very brief moment with Jimmy slipping into full Saul Goodman mode, complete with pastel suits, a flamboyant mane, a combover that can only be described as Trump, and the LWYRUP license plate. There is no sign of Kim, except that Saul is now spending the night with another woman, some time after she left him. He bids a quick farewell to his new lover the next morning with a parting gift of a cereal bar from a huge bowl he keeps on his dining room table.
Giancarlo Esposito in Better Call Saul Photo: Greg Lewis/AMC
Of the other characters currently in Saul’s universe, Fun and Games leaves everyone in some state of resolution. Mike clears up the situation with Howard as best he can from a legal standpoint. With the Lalo threat gone and Gus reassuring Don Eladio that Hector’s claims about Gus’ backstabbing were nothing to worry about, Mike and Gus closed the underground tunnel to Gus’s lair and he ordered Mike to restart construction on the meth lab. And yes, Kim is leaving the bar, her marriage, and going to… we don’t know where yet. Saul showrunner Peter Gould has repeatedly said that the series will end with no ambiguity about Kim — so we haven’t seen the last of her, have we?
As for Jimmy/Saul/Jean, maybe when all is said and done, Better Call Saul won’t just usher in Saul Goodman’s Breaking Bad era or Gene Takovich’s post-Bad life. During a Q&A at the Tribeca Festival with the cast of Sol, Gould and writer Gordon Smith, they were asked to describe the last half of the season. Bob Odenkirk replied simply, “Second Life.” Maybe the last four episodes aren’t just about Better Call Saul’s Goodman merging with Breaking Bad, but also Gene Takovich merging with what will be his life, after dealing with Jeff.
Perhaps the end of Saul will give us the shortened version of the Gene spin-off that so many of us were hoping for, and with the movie El Camino following Jesse’s life after the end of Bad, it will bring the entire Gilligan Albuquerque universe to an unambiguous conclusion. Wouldn’t it be something?
- Is the Statue of Liberty on top of the office the same one from the Kettleman Building? Do they somehow come back into history?
- The Saul Goodman & Associates sign that Jimmy and Francesca oversaw being installed was as beautiful as the rest of Jimmy’s original office. We can guess why the office design changed so drastically in the years to come, but I still wouldn’t mind seeing if some specific event triggered the downgraded redesign.
- Speaking of Francesca, consider her another victim of what Kim and Jimmy did. More Jimmy than Kim, but she was a much happier, positive person when we met her as a receptionist at the Wexler McGill office. Her demeanor in the post-Kim era at Saul Goodman’s offices matches that of Mike working with Gus after the deaths of Nacho and Howard: resigned and more than a little angry.
- Forced to provide Nacho’s father with some sort of conclusion about his son, Mike gets a kick in the ass when Mr. Varga puts him in the same place as the rest of Nacho’s people. “My boy is gone,” Mr. Varga says, recalling, of course, the season one “Five-O” line from Mike when he tells Stacey, “I broke my boy!” about his own beloved son.
- We’ve probably seen the only time in all of the Saul/Breaking Bad timelines where Gus Fring looked relaxed and legitimately having fun. This continued for the duration of his brief conversation in the winery with David the waiter. After David stepped back and Gus finished a sip of the special wine poured for him, he pushed the glass away. His face immediately changed as he returned to the buttoned-up, fussy “house cat” Lalo described: the man who would later straighten his tie after his face was blown off.